MUMBAI: Weapons used in the murders of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar and activist-journalist Gauri Lankesh were same, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has said.
Two unidentified motorcycle-borne assailants had fatally shot Dabholkar in Pune on the morning of June 20, 2013. Almost four years later, Lankesh was shot dead outside her residence in Bengaluru on September 5, 2017.
Though it had been widely suspected for long, the CBI has for the first time established a link between the two murder cases from Karnataka and Maharashtra. "Some of the accused in the Gauri Lankesh case are connected with Sachin Andhure and Narendra Dabholkar's murder," the CBI remand application said, seeking the extension of Andhure's custody.
The suspects claimed that the same weapon was used in both the murders, the federal agency said.
Subsequently, a Pune court extended Andhure's custody till August 30. Andhure was arrested from Aurangabad last week.
The CBI is also likely to demand the custody of Sharad Kalaskar, who was arrested by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) in connection with the Nalasopara arms haul case on August 10.
Andhure told his interrogators that one of those arrested for the Gauri Lankesh murder had handed over to him a 7.65-mm country-made pistol and three bullets, the CBI informed.
According to the remand petition, Andhure claimed that he passed on the weapon to his brother-in-law Subham Surale in Aurangabad who in turn passed it on to his friend Rohit Rege. The CBI sought his remand to interrogate him.
The CBI, which has already named Dr Virendrasingh Tawde as the mastermind in Dabholkar murder case, said Andhure planned the murder along with Tawde. It also claimed the assailants had received training at a resort in Karnataka.
Besides making efforts to trace the missing motorcycle used in the Dabholkar murder, the CBI is also expected to apply for remand of one of the accused arrested by the Karnataka police in the Gauri Lankesh killing